Obama announces targeted airstrikes, humanitarian aid in Iraq


McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama announced late Thursday that he had ordered targeted airstrikes in Iraq as well as a drop of meals and water to thousands of Iraqi citizens trapped by Islamic militants on a mountain top in norther Iraq.

“Today America is coming to help,” Obama said.

In brief remarks from the State Dining Room, Obama acknowledged that some Americans are concerned about any military act in Iraq, but that he could not sit back while the United States was uniquely positioned to help.

“The United States cannot and should not intervene every time there is a crisis in the world,” Obama said. “I know many of you are rightly concerned about any military action in Iraq. I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq.”

Obama said he authorized the U.S. military to carry out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic militants if they advance toward the city of Erbil.

And he said the Iraqi government asked for humanitarian aid for those Iraqis trapped without food and water. Obama said the thousands of Iraqis face “certain death.”

“The United States of America can not turn a blind eye,” he said.

“People are starving and children are dying of thirst,” he said.

Obama said he is consulting with the United Nations and other countries.

“We do whatever is necessary to support our people and help allies when they are in danger,” he said.

Just before Obama spoke, a senior defense official confirmed that the humanitarian aid was conducted at Obama’s direction.

“The mission was conducted by a number of U.S. military aircraft under the direction of U.S. Central Command,” the official said. “The aircraft that dropped the humanitarian supplies have now safely exited the immediate airspace over the drop area.”

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